Shakira hit was an indirect but infringing copy of another

September 2014

Artistes, music publishing


This could be expensive: The BBC reports that one of Colombian pop star Shakira’s big hits has been found to be indirectly copied from another songwriter’s work. Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York has found that Shakira’s 2010 Spanish-language version of Loca had infringed on a song by Dominican singer Ramon Arias Vazquez. The Spanish language version. Shakira’s missive, a collaboration with Dominican rapper Eduard Edwin Bello Pou, better known as El Cata – was widely released as a single around the world and borrowed from¬† Loca Con Su Tiguer – but that song was itself was based on the Arias Vazquez track of the same name.¬† Loca went on to sell more than five million copies and topped Billboard Magazine’s Latin charts. Her English language version of Loca – which featured Dizzee Rascal – was “not offered into evidence” at the trial. In his ruling Judge Hellerstein said that while the hit single had been based on an earlier version of a song recorded by Bello [El Cata], this itself was a copy of Arias Vazquez’s song saying “Accordingly, I find that, since Bello had copied Arias, whoever wrote Shakira’s version of the song also indirectly copied Arias”. Bello had denied outright the allegations made against him, claiming ‘Loca Con Su Tiguera’ was his song. Judge Hellerstein decided against his role as a writer, partly because of the existence of a cassette of the song in Arias’s hands from 1998, and partly because of inconsistencies in Bello’s story both inside and outside of court. The Shakira and Arias songs were sufficiently similar for there to be copyright infringement.

The case was brought by Mayimba Music who had acquired the rights in Arias’ song, and it was that firm which sued the various Sony companies involved in the Shakira hit.

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